The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off Thursday (and runs until September 15), which means it’s that time of year when the awards-season movies begin to come into focus.
The festival is always one of the spots where studios, distributors, and streamers bring the films they think are worthy of Academy Awards, and this year is no different.
Sony’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers; Fox Searchlight’s Taika Waititi Nazi satire, “Jojo Rabbit”; Warner Bros.’ look at the birth of DC Comics’ biggest villain, “Joker”; and Fox’s race-car biopic starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, “Ford v Ferrari” are just some of the titles playing at this year’s festival hoping to build enough buzz to kick off an Oscar campaign.
Here are 16 movies playing at the fest this year that you should keep an eye out for when they hit theatres later this year:
“Hustlers” — September 13
There are a lot of things to love about this movie, especially its incredible cast that includes Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, and Cardi B. But what may give it an award season edge are the talents of its writer-director Lorene Scafaria (“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, “The Meddler”) who takes the “us versus them” mentality following the financial crisis and turns it into a gripping crime drama.
“The Laundromat” — September 27 (Available on Netflix October 18)
Steven Soderbergh’s latest project for Netflix takes on the Panama Papers, and he does it the only way he knows how: by putting it all in a playful tone. Reminiscent of his 2009 movie “The Informant!,” Meryl Streep plays a widow who investigates the scam that kept the rich extremely rich.
“Joker” — October 4
Hyped beyond belief following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, this origin story of the iconic DC Comics villain will keep director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix busy for the rest of the year.
“Lucy in the Sky” — October 4
Natalie Portman will once again be in the best actress discussion with her latest movie in which she plays an astronaut who has trouble coping with the limitations of Earth after being in space.
“Parasite” — October 11
The latest from Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” “Snowpiercer”) has already found huge acclaim as it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May, marking the first-ever Korean film to take the honour. Expect the director’s familiar mix of dark comedy and thrills.
“Jojo Rabbit” — October 18
Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) brings his unique brand of comedy to his most controversial story yet. His latest movie follows a young German boy whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler (played by Waititi). The movie also stars Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell.
“The Lighthouse” — October 18
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play 1890s lighthouse keepers on a remote New England island in the latest movie from Robert Eggers (“The Witch”). Expect the performances by the leads and the movie’s crisp black-and-white cinematography to be in the award-season conversation.
“Harriet” — November 1
Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman in a biopic on her incredible life and quest to free hundreds of slaves.
“Marriage Story” — November 6 (Available on Netflix December 6)
Get ready to see a lot of Adam Driver for the rest of the year. Along with playing Kylo Ren once more in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” he will also be in two very different dramas. In the first one, he stars opposite Scarlett Johansson as the two play a couple going through a divorce. It’s the latest writing-directing effort from Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “The Meyerowitz Stories”).
“Honey Boy” — November 8
From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, director Alma Har’el examines the actor’s childhood and rocky relationship with his father (played in the movie by LaBeouf himself). You can’t have more of an awards-bait feel than this one.
“Ford v Ferrari” — November 15
Another one you’ll be hearing a lot about through awards season is the latest from James Mangold (“Logan”). Here he casts Christian Bale and Matt Damon to depict the real-life men who built the car for Ford to go up against Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
“The Report” — November 15
In this Adam Driver movie, he plays a Senate staffer who is tasked to investigate the CIA’s interrogation tactics after 9/11.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” — November 22
Tom Hanks takes on a character even more likable than him: Fred Rogers. Playing the man behind “Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood” could lead to Hanks receiving Oscar notice once more in his career.
“Knives Out” — November 27
On the heels of “The Last Jedi,” Rian Johnson returns to an original story, and it’s a twisted one with an all-star cast. Daniel Craig plays a detective who investigates the death of a family patriarch. But it’s clear he won’t get any help from them. And that’s where the fun begins. Johnson, who also wrote the script, has enlisted a stellar cast to accompany Craig: Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield, to name a few.
“The Aeronauts” — December 6
Amazon has been wanting to release bigger films and this one looks to have that. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star as a duo who search for discoveries while travelling in a hot air balloon in the 1800s.
“Uncut Gems” — December 13 (Limited), December 25 (Wide)
The latest movie from Benny and Josh Safdie (“Good Time”) stars Adam Sandler as a New York City jewellery store owner who is struggling to pay his debts. Combining Sandler with the Safdie brothers is a lethal combination that is sure to wow audiences.
4 more TIFF-bound movies you shouldn’t miss
- “Hustle and Flow” director Craig Brewer looks at the true story of how Rudy Ray Moore turned into Blaxploitation legend Dolemite in the Netflix movie “Dolemite Is My Name” (in theatres October 4 and streaming October 25).
- Michael B. Jordan plays renowned civil rights defence attorney Bryan Stevenson in “Just Mercy”(December 25).
- Renée Zellweger plays Judy Garland in “Judy”(September 27).
- And Richard Stanley (“Hardware,” “Dust Devil”), who has found limited work since being fired from “The Island of Dr. Moreau” in 1996, teams with Nicolas Cage for the thriller “Colour Out of Space” (we can only pray it will be released one day).
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